California Gov. Gavin Newsom appears in a favorable position to stave off recall in next week’s election, according to a University of California at Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll released Friday.
Roughly 60 percent of likely voters polled said they opposed recalling Newsom, compared to 38.5 percent who supported removing Newsom and filling his term with someone else. Only 1.4 percent of respondents said they had yet to make up their minds, a sign that Republicans may have a difficult time unlocking significant last-minute momentum ahead of the Sept. 14 contest.
The pollster reported that close to two out of five respondents had already submitted their vote, further suggesting that a portion of the votes are already locked in. They did note that the day-of electorate is shaping up to be pro-recall, based on survey results, though not by enough of a margin to make up the difference. The likely voter results had a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
That’s a sizable shift in Newsom’s favor since the previous IGS poll, co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, released at the end of July. That survey showed the anti-recall effort holding just a 3-point advantage over the anti-Newsom forces among likely voters, spurring heartburn among Democrats and prompting them to redouble their efforts to gin up enthusiasm within their base supporters.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who previously represented California in the Senate, campaigned alongside Newsom earlier this week in the San Francisco Bay Area, and President Joe Biden is expected to arrive Monday in an attempt to further shore up support for the Democratic governor.
Friday’s survey largely tracks with a separate poll released earlier this month by the Public Policy Institute of California, which found that 58 percent of likely voters surveyed were against recalling Newsom versus 39 percent who wanted him out of office.
And it’s the latest sign of good news for Newsom, who has recently signaled that he thinks he’s on track to beat the recall, based on recent polling and other indicators. Nevertheless, former President Donald Trump and other Republicans are laying the groundwork to claim the recall results will be fraudulent, potentially muddying the waters of even a clear-cut outcome.
The new IGS survey found that libertarian talk radio host Larry Elder remains the top contender to replace Newsom if a majority of voters do end up voting to recall him. Elder was the first choice for 38 percent of likely voters, according to the Los Angeles Times’ analysis of the poll, nearly four times that of the next-closest candidate, Democrat Kevin Paffrath. According to the rules of recall elections in California, a replacement candidate only needs a plurality of support in order to win after a recall is triggered on the first part of the two-step ballot.
The poll also showed that nearly a third of likely voters — and close to half of Democratic respondents — are disinclined to name a replacement to Newsom after the governor and his supporters made a concerted effort to discourage other Democrats from running as potential substitutes, a contrast to the 2003 recall in which then-Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante was on the replacement ballot.
The poll released Friday was conducted between Aug. 30-Sept. 6. It spanned 9,809 registered voters across the state, 6,550 of whom were designated as so-called likely voters by pollsters.
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